God Bless America


Lets get this absolutely clear. I love America. Many wonderful and amazing things come from there.

The world invents something, often Japan, the plucky Brits, the odd Frenchman – and America runs with it and turns it into something amazing.

Take the modern internet (but h/t to top Brit Tim Berners-Lee for actually inventing it) for example – there’s no doubt that the US is the centre of the internet these days – I have no idea where this page is actually physically hosted, but I’ll bet it’s in the good ole USA.

This trusty and very desirable MacBook Pro that I am typing on – it’s a computer, invented in other places, manufactured in China or Japan or Taiwan or someplace, but designed (by an Englishman as it happens) and lovingly created in, yup, you guessed it, America. You don’t see the Brits or the Spanish or the Australians doing stuff like this. I don’t know why really.

Anyway, on to my point, and this is where many of my American friends will have to take a breath and realise I am not having a go at them, not at all. I love you guys (to coin a phrase). So, the story:

My wife (tee hee, still makes me giggle) is writing a book – it’s an Australian book, Aussie characters who say Aussie things. She went on a forum for critique, and got slammed for stuff that really highlights something deeper.

She got big red underlining and very rude comments for spelling. Words like neighbour, colour, realised, specialised, mum (I’ll come back to this one) and recognised.

Now, lets just take a minute here – these words are actually spelt like this everywhere outside of America – its quite well known. The dropped ‘u’ and ‘z’ instead of ‘s’ are American specific spellings. Now, when we get books and magazines from the US over here, we don’t melt in a puddle of rage at the misspelling, so why should everyone else in the world have to pander to them?

She also got slated in her book for things like when kids leave school, when they get a driving licence, car types and names, the use of the word ‘Ma’ when describing your mother (it ‘has’ to be Mom, apparently, ‘Ma’ is too redneck). Well, I’ve got news for you, America – people from Yorkshire who have emigrated to Australia often call their mothers ‘Ma’ – more to the point – no one outside of the US calls their mothers ‘mom’, but somehow in books and films that get exported around the world from America, we can get past this fact as we know that’s just the way it is in America, things are different, its ok.

So – why do we have to change stuff that’s not American? Why does Hugh Laurie, an English actor famous for his voice, have to play Dr House with an American accent when it’s not relevant to the story?

Listen up America – there’s a whole wide world out there that does things differently, spells stuff the differently (some may even say the correct and original way, but you’re big enough and ugly enough to have your own way if you want) and speaks differently. This is a good thing and we’ll be buggered if we’re going to change stuff to suit you.

Celebrate the differences, understand there are differences for good reasons and don’t try to make everything uniform American colour. I want to see actors from Australia (Sam Worthington in Avatar for example) speak with an Aussie accent in films – why should he have to speak with an American accent – hell, other people in the film speak with different accents – I don’t get it.

So, America, I love you, but I will never spell colour as color or attempt to disguise my (very) English accent. It’s what makes me me.

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2 Comments on “God Bless America

  1. Yay! Go Charlie, go Charlie…………………… English English is the original. American English is a corrupted version of it. I can’t believe they slated Jay for spelling things the correct way. American spellings seem to go for the lazy option by missing out letters. Did she pick on the American spellings when doing her critiques? I doubt it, because we all know that there are differences and anyone who is *well read* will know that other English speaking countries use different spellings from those used by the USA. You’ll notice I said different from, not different than. I think it all smacks of petty nit-picking.
    While on this subject; I was playing ‘Are you smarter than a fifth grader’ (USA version – DS) where I lost points for saying there were no vowels in the word spy and only one in mystery. Apparently in the US Y is considered to be a vowel sometimes!!!! When I went to school there were five vowels – AEIOU – and nobody is going to tell me Y is a vowel.

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    • apparently, according to wikipedia (which is itself a largely American thing), Y is a vowel-like letter, which means it can be both vowel and consonant depending on its context and sound. Personally, I agree with you, there are 5 and Y isn’t one of them!

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